Federal prosecutors probe foreign nexus of two individuals posing as U.S. federal agents

Federal prosecutors probe foreign nexus of two individuals posing as U.S. federal agents

Federal officials are probing a potential foreign nexus in the case of two men that prosecutors allege posed as U.S. federal agents and lavished members of the U.S. Secret Service with gifts.

Prosecutors say Arian Teherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, falsely claimed to be Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and were attempting to “integrate” with U.S. federal agents and those in the U.S. defense community by lavishing members of the Secret Service and DHS with gifts including rent-free apartments, iPhones and a drone.

The FBI arrested Messrs. Teherzadeh and Ali on Wednesday during a raid on a luxury apartment building in Washington where the two men, who had for more than two years presented themselves as federal officials, were staying and where they had provided apartments for Secret Service agents.

During a court appearance on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rothstein said Mr. Ali told witnesses that he was affiliated with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and had obtained multiple visas from Pakistan and Iran months before presenting himself as a U.S. official.

Mr. Rothstein said the U.S. has yet to verify Mr. Ali’s claims.

Officials also told CBS News that investigators are looking into potential ties between the two suspects and Iranian intelligence, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The two men caught the attention of federal officials in mid-March during and U.S. Postal Inspector’s investigation of a reported assault on a letter carrier at their apartment building in Washington.

The two men told the authorities that they were members of a phony task force within DHS to investigate gangs and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. Postal Inspectors alerted other federal officials after their initial interview with the two men.

During a search of five residences and three vehicles at the apartment building on Wednesday, the FBI found body armor, gas masks, handcuffs, and police training manuals and surveillance equipment, officials said. The FBI also found several firearms in the sweep, according to Mr. Rothstein.

Authorities also seized a binder containing information about other tenants in the building, including several who work in law enforcement and other federal agencies.

Four U.S. Secret Service officials have been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation into allegations that they received gifts from Messrs. Teherzadeh and Ali.

Among the gifts, prosecutors allege the two men provided was a penthouse apartment costing $40,000 per year. Mr. Taherzadeh also offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for one Secret Service agent who serves on the first lady’s protection detail, prosecutors say.

Mr. Rothstein told the federal judge assigned to the case that prosecutors are still investigating whether Messrs. Teherzadeh and Ali made any requests from the two Secret Service officials in exchange for providing them with rent-free apartments.

The prosecution team has also issued grand jury subpoenas to investigate the two men’s finances.

— This story includes wire reporting.